Life is precious, and in critical moments, having basic life-saving skills can make the difference between life and death. Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, and being prepared to act quickly can save lives. Whether you're a healthcare professional, a first responder, or an ordinary citizen, acquiring basic life-saving skills is invaluable. In this article, we will discuss essential life-saving skills that anyone can learn to help them confidently respond to emergencies and potentially save lives.
You never know when you can find yourself faced with an emergency situation. It could be that someone you are with is injured or in trouble, or you could encounter a stranger who needs medical attention. Regardless of the circumstances, acting in an emergency and saving a life is an invaluable skill that everyone should have. Learning some basic life saving skills will have you covered in most types of emergencies, with these seven areas being the most important to know:
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): CPR involves chest compressions and rescue breaths to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation during cardiac arrest, aiming to save a person's life until professional help arrives.
- Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Use: AEDs are portable devices that analyze heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock when necessary, assisting in restoring a normal heartbeat during sudden cardiac arrest emergencies.
- Heimlich Maneuver (Choking First Aid): The Heimlich maneuver is a technique used to clear a blocked airway by applying upward abdominal pressure, helping dislodge foreign objects and prevent choking.
- First Aid for Severe Bleeding: Basic first aid for severe bleeding involves applying direct pressure to the wound, elevating the injured area, and using a tourniquet as a last resort to control heavy bleeding.
- Recovery Position: Placing an unconscious but breathing individual in the recovery position ensures their airway remains clear, reducing the risk of choking on fluids or vomiting.
- Recognizing Signs of Stroke (FAST): FAST is an acronym to help identify stroke symptoms and the importance of calling 911 for suspected stroke.
- Basic First Aid: Basic first aid skills encompass a range of techniques to provide immediate care for injuries, such as cuts, burns, fractures, and more, stabilizing the injured person's condition until professional medical help arrives.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR, is a crucial skill that can keep a person alive until professional help arrives. CPR involves chest compressions and rescue breaths to maintain oxygen circulation in the body. Here's a basic guide on performing CPR:
- Check for responsiveness: Tap the person and shout for help. If they don't respond, call 911 or ask someone nearby to do so.
- Begin chest compressions: Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest, just below the nipple line, and interlock your fingers. Push hard and fast at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
- Give rescue breaths: After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths. Tilt the head backward, pinch the nose, and cover the person's mouth with yours, delivering breaths that make the chest rise.
Proper CPR training is the best way to learn this life saving skills, but even without it, you can perform CPR chest compressions or hands-only CPR. Press on the victim’s chest at least two inches down, at the rate of two compressions per second or 120 chest compressions per minute. Continue without stopping until it restores the normal heart rate, or emergency assistance can take over.
Takes less than 20 minutes. learn more
In addition to performing high-quality CPR during a cardiac arrest, knowing how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) is a critical life saving skills to have to respond to medical emergencies. While CPR keeps blood flowing, it does not restart the heart.
To do this, an AED is needed. These lifesaving devices are available in public areas like shopping centers and airports. Certification is recommended, however even without formal AED training, you can still use the AED during life threatening emergencies.
The automated voice machine will walk rescuers through the steps needed to use it on a cardiac arrest victim. There are currently no published studies that address whether compressions during manual defibrillator or AED rhythm analysis affect patient outcome.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Use
In addition to performing high-quality CPR during a cardiac arrest, knowing how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) is a critical life saving skill to have to respond to medical emergencies. AEDs are portable devices that can deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heart rhythm in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. They are simple to use and often available in public places. To use an AED:
- Turn on the AED and follow the voice or visual prompts.
- Attach the electrode pads to the person's chest as shown in the instructions.
- Ensure that no one is touching the person and press the "analyze" button.
- If advised, deliver a shock by pressing the "shock" button.
The Heimlich Maneuver, also known as abdominal thrusts, is a first-aid technique used to help a choking victim who cannot breathe due to an obstruction in their airway, typically caused by a foreign object, such as food, getting stuck in the throat. This maneuver is named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who first described and popularized it. Here's how the Heimlich Maneuver is performed:
- Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist.
- Make a fist with one hand and place it just above the navel, thumb side in.
- Grasp the fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts until the object is expelled.
- If the first thrust does not dislodge the object, continue with a series of abdominal thrusts until the obstruction is cleared or the person becomes unconscious.
First Aid for Severe Bleeding
First aid for severe bleeding is crucial in situations where a person is experiencing significant bleeding due to an injury or wound. Severe bleeding can be life-threatening, so it's essential to take immediate action while waiting for professional medical help to arrive. Here are the steps to provide first aid for severe bleeding:
- Apply direct pressure: Use a clean cloth, gauze, or your hand to apply direct pressure on the bleeding wound.
- Elevate the injured area if possible.
- If bleeding continues, apply a tourniquet as a last resort.
- Monitor the person's condition and comfort them.
- Stay with them until professional help arrives.
The recovery position, also known as the lateral recumbent position, is a first aid technique used to position an unconscious person who is breathing normally and has no spinal injuries into a stable and safe posture. Placing an unconscious individual in the recovery position helps maintain an open airway and prevents them from choking on their own vomit or saliva. Here's how to properly position someone in the recovery position:
- Lay the person on their side with their upper leg bent at a right angle to their body.
- Support their head with your hand to keep the airway open.
Recognizing Signs of Stroke
A stroke is a sudden and potentially life-threatening medical condition that occurs when there is a disruption in the blood supply to a part of the brain. Strokes can have serious and lasting effects on an individual's physical and cognitive functions. Remember the acronym FAST to recognize the signs:
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
- Arms: Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Basic First Aid
Learning basic first aid skills is an invaluable asset for everyone. These skills empower individuals to respond effectively to a wide range of injuries and medical emergencies, from cuts and burns to fractures and more. The immediate response and injury stabilization taught in first aid training can make a significant difference in the outcome of an accident or health crisis. It equips individuals to provide initial care that not only stabilizes the injured person's condition but also prevents further harm.
Additionally, first aid helps reduce complications, offers emotional support, and prepares individuals to handle unexpected emergencies in their everyday lives, workplaces, and communities. It contributes to safer environments, complies with workplace safety regulations, and enhances community resilience in times of need.
At CPR Select, we offer credible and convenient online BLS training, which strictly adheres to the latest guidelines of the American Heart Association. After completing your proper training, you will be awarded a nationally recognized certification in basic life support valid for two years.